Rensselaer Alumni Magazine - Fall 2017 - 25
and immersive systems. CISL's mission is
to explore and advance problem-solving
among groups of humans and machines.
The lab is built around a futuristic
"Situations Room" that can be adapted to
industry-specific environments, including
medical diagnosis rooms, to improve how
people work together.
With HEALS, their newest
collaboration, IBM and Rensselaer are
pursuing the bold goal of helping people
with chronic medical conditions, from
diabetes to cancer. The two organizations
are deploying their expertise in cognitive
computing to provide patients and doctors
with highly personalized information that
million results, more than any individual
could hope to review. And that doesn't
include non-digitized medical literature.
Using big data analytics, state-of-theart machine learning, and the technologies
of the semantic web, researchers will
individualize the relevant health-care
knowledge and help people discover the
most relevant information on behaviors
that could prevent prediabetes from
progressing and becoming a more serious,
chronic condition. In essence, HEALS
will provide users with a powerful partner
to help manage their health. Beyond
diabetes, HEALS will also help medical
practitioners, researchers, and patients deal
can help them manage and improve patient
health. HEALS will gather and sift through
clinical and non-clinical knowledge and
combine it with fitness, medical, dietary,
environmental, and other user-generated
data to help people understand how
best to deal with their individual, often
complicated medical situations.
For its first application, the HEALS
team is targeting people who have
prediabetes, a condition that places
them at higher risk of developing Type
2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
Googling "prediabetes" yields over 2.3
with cancer and other complex diseases.
Hendler points to studies that compare
the diagnostic capabilities of doctors
and computers. Doctors have years of
education and firsthand experience
diagnosing and treating patients. But more
than a million medical papers are published
each year, and doctors simply cannot read
them all. In that regard, computers have
the edge. They can store and process those
papers and, aided by advances in artificial
intelligence technology, extract meaningful
information. Yet their processing and
extraction capabilities cannot make up
for the advantage of physician skill and
"Recent studies show again and again
that a doctor working with a medical
computer will outperform the doctor
alone or the computer alone every time,"
Hendler says. "The same needs to become
true for patients.
"With the new technologies we are
exploring at Rensselaer, a patient with a
cognitively enhanced computer will be able
to stay healthy much better than a patient
alone," he adds. "If we could extend that
to hundreds of thousands of patients
worldwide, the impact on global health
would be immeasurable."
A partnership between Rensselaer
and the Icahn School of Medicine
at Mount Sinai opens doors for
students interested in pursuing
a medical degree and creates
internship opportunities in Mount
Sinai clinical labs.
A team headed by Rensselaer led
a multinational effort to develop a
new drug to treat the flu. In a study
on immune-compromised mice,
the treatment reduced influenza A
mortality from 100 percent to
25 percent over 14 days.
RensselaeR/ Fall 2017 25